Speculation ahead of the inauguration 10th National Assembly scheduled for June 13 is that the leaderships of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) are under duress to back former governor of Zamfara State, Senator Abdulaziz Yari, for President of the 10th Senate.
An internal break up had happened in the All Progressives Congress (APC) following reports that President Bola Tinubu and the leadership of the party are rooting for former Akwa Ibom State governor, Senator Godswill Akpabio, for the 10th Senate President position.
Emerging reports during the weekend, however, by the other camp claimed that senators are now shifting their focus to Yari and Betara.
Speaking through his campaign director-general, Senator Jimoh Ibrahim, Yari claimed that Akpabio is currently in a panic mood, which led to what he described as a “preposterous statement” made by director general of the Akpabio campaign group, Senator Ali Ndume, that Yari’s only claim to the Senate presidency was money.
But some APC lawmakers under the aegis of G6 Coalition fiercely opposed the zoning arrangement, describing it as “an unconstitutional imposition of the leadership of the 10th Assembly by forces outside the National Assembly.”
It was gathered that a number of elected and re-elected PDP and LP federal lawmakers had rejected the entreaties of the leadership of their parties to endorse some preferred aspirants presented to them ahead of the proclamation of the 10th National Assembly and election of principal officers.
The opposition party lawmakers, according to Leadership, said they are prepared for a showdown with the leadership of their parties over the choice of the helmsmen of the 10th National Assembly.
The lawmakers are said to have given their commitment to the choice of the ruling party, a development which has pitched them against the leadership of their parties.
The intention of the leadership of the two main opposition platforms, according to sources who should know, is to scuttle the zoning formula of APC for the leadership of the 10th Assembly and prevent the election of the preferred aspirants of the ruling party in the crucial legislative leadership election on June 13.
PDP NWC Retreat
Due to the happenings, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP, in collaboration with the PDP Governors’ Forum, organised a retreat in Bauchi, the capital of Bauchi State during the weekend.
Reports claimed that the party leadership were hoping to work out measures and modalities to frustrate APC’s leadership succession plans for the 10th Assembly.
While the party leadership’s intention is yet to be understood, the NWC brought other opposition lawmakers to the Bauchi forum obviously to muster enough support to meet the target and achieve results.
Some of the aspirants for the Senate president and Speaker of the House positions were also reported to have relocated to Bauchi during the weekend’s retreat, ostensibly to monitor the development at the ceremony.
In a concerted effort to prevent APC’s wish from prevailing, it was further gathered that PDP leadership opted to collaborate with its LP’s counterpart.
It could not be ascertained why some lawmakers elected on other platforms were invited to the PDP retreat. However, it was learnt that concerted efforts by PDP leadership to lure lawmakers into endorsing Yari and Betara were roundly rejected by them.
A Labour Party elected federal lawmaker while giving a graphic picture of the event that unfolded in Bauchi, said the retreat was obviously funded by some aggrieved aspirants, for the Senate presidency and Speakership positions, on the platform of APC.
He wondered why LP-elected members were mobilised to the retreat of another opposition party in Bauchi.
The lawmaker said, “All these retreats going on across the country, these private jets, hotel accommodation, logistics, who is funding and bankrolling them? It’s surely beyond the reach of any of the opposition political parties. Every grown up and sensible adult will wonder in his or her heart about who’s behind the expenses of all these retreats going on across the country?”
“My greatest fear is where all these will land us at the end. I pray this is not where the crack of our party (LP) will start. A crack far bigger than the one the national secretariat is facing. We should not blame external people when we use our hearts as it is.
“What are LP members doing at PDP’s retreat in Bauchi? I have seen tougher crises in my life but have not seen this kind of poor management. We still have time to control this one before it spills like milk on the sand. The greediness of the chairmanship of the committee is what is causing all these problems.”
On his part, a PDP Senator-elect at PDP’s Bauchi retreat said: “The PDP’s NWC invited some elected members on the platform of the minority political parties, especially LP, to the Bauchi retreat. Initially, we were surprised that elected lawmakers from other platforms other than PDP were brought into the retreat.
“They were brought into Bauchi to endorse Senator Yari and Hon. Betara along with their PDP counterparts, and a communiqué was supposed to be issued to the effect that both the PDP and LP have endorsed the aspiration of Senator Yari and Hon. Mukthar Betara, respectively for the Senate Presidency and the speakership of the House of the 10th Assembly,” the politician told Leadership during an interview.
Also, a member-elect representing Okpe/Sapele/Uvwie federal constituency of Delta State, Barrister Benedict Etanabene, confirmed the pressures on opposition members-elects to vote for the preferred aspirants of the leadership of their political parties.
Etanabene urged leaders of LP to exercise restraint and caution in desperation to frustrate the zoning agenda of the ruling party, adding that the choice of Yari and Betara by the leadership of the opposition parties lacked justice and integrity.